« السابقةمتابعة »
The Angel Michael continues, from the flood, to relate what shall suc ceed; then in the mention of Abraham, comes by degrees to explain who that Seed of the Woman shall be which was promised Adam and Eve in the fall. His incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension; the state of the church till his second coming. Adam, greatly satisfied and re-comforted by these relations and promises, descends the hill with Michael: wakens Eve, who all this while had slept, but with gentle dreams composed to quietness of mind and submission. Michael in either hand leads them out of Paradise, the fiery sword waving behind them, and the Cherubim taking their stations to guard the place.
As one who, in his journey, baits at noon,
Tho' bent on speed; so here the Archangel paused,
Betwixt the world destroy'd, and world restored;
If Adam aught, perhaps might interpose:
Then, with transition sweet, new speech resumes.
"Thus thou hast seen one world begin, & end;
And man, as from a second stock, proceed..
Much thou hast yet to see; but I perceive
Thy mortal sight to fail; objects divine
Must needs impair and weary human sense:
Henceforth, what is to come I will relate;
Thou therefore give due audience, & attend.
This second source of men, while yet but few,
And while the dread of judgment pass'd remains
Fresh in their minds, fearing the Deity,
With some regard to what is just and right,
Shall lead their lives, and multiply apace,
Labouring the soil, & reaping plenteous crop,
Corn, wine, & oil: & from the herd or flock,
Oft sacrificing bullock, lamb, or kid.
With large wine-offerings pour'd, & sacred feast,
Shall spend their days in joy, unblamed, & dwell
Long time in peace, by families and tribes,
Under paternal rule: till one shall rise,
Of proud ambitious heart, who not content
With fair equality, fraternal state,
Will arrogate dominion undeserved,
Over his brethren, and quite dispossess
Concord and law of nature from the earth;
Hunting, & men, not beasts, shall be his game,
With war and hostile snare, such as refuse
Subjection to his empire tyrannous :
A mighty hunter thence he shall be styled
Before the Lord, as in despite of Heaven,
Or from Heaven claiming second sovereignty;
And from rebellion shall derive his name,
Though of rebellion others he accuse.
He with a crew, whom like ambition joins
With him, or under him, to tyrannize,
Marching from Eden, towards the west, shall find
The plain, wherein a black bituminous gurge
Boils out from under ground, the mouth of Hell ;
Of brick, and of that stuff they cast to build
A city & tower, whose top may reach to Heaven;
And get themselves a name, lest, far dispers'd
In foreign lands, their memory be lost,
Regardless whether good or evil fame.
But God who oft descends to visit men
Unseen, and through their habitations walks
To mark their doings, them beholding soon
Comes down to see their city, ere the tower
Obstruct Heaven's towers; and in derision, sets
Upon their tongues a various spirit, to rase
Quite out their native language, and instead,
To sow a jangling noise of words unknown.
Forthwith a hideous gabble rises loud
Among the builders: each to other calls,
Not understood, till hoarse, and all in rage,
As mock'd, they storm: great laughter was in Heaven,
And looking down, to see the hubbub strange,
And hear the din: thus was the building left
Ridiculous, and the work Confusion named."
Whereto thus Adam, fatherly displeased.
"O execrable son, so to aspire
Above his brethren, to himself assuming
Authority, usurp'd from God, not given!
He gave us only over beast, fish, fowl,
Dominion absolute; that right we hold
By his donation; but man over men
He made not lord: such title to himself
Reserving, human left from human free.
But this usurper his encroachment proud
Stays not on man: to God his tower intends
Siege and defiance. Wretched man! what food
Will he convey up thither, to sustain
Himself and his rash army? where thin air,
Above the clouds, will pine his entrails gross,
And famish him of breath, if not of bread."
To whom thus Michael. "Justly thou abhor'st
That son, who on the quiet state of men
Such trouble brought, affecting to subdue
Rational liberty; yet know withal,
Since thy original lapse, true liberty
Is lost, which always with right reason dwells
Twin'd, and from her hath no dividual being:
Reason in man obscured, or not obey'd,
Immediately inordinate desires,
And upstart passions, catch the government
From reason, and to servitude reduce
Man, till then free. Therefore, since he permits,
Within himself, unworthy powers to reign
Over free reason, God, in judgment just,
Subjects him, from without, to violent lords:
Who oft, as undeservedly, inthrall
His outward freedom. Tyranny must be,
Though to the tyrant thereby no excuse,
Yet sometimes nations will decline so low
From virtue, which is reason, that no wrong,
But justice, and some fatal curse annex'd,
Deprives them of their outward liberty,
Their inward loss. Witness the irreverent son
Of him who built the ark; who, for the shame
Done to his father, heard this heavy curse,
"Servant of servants," on his vicious race.
Thus will this latter, as the former world,
Still tend from bad to worse; till God, at last,
Wearied with their iniquities, withdraw
His presence from among them, and avert
His holy eyes; resolving, from thenceforth
To leave them to their own polluted ways;
And one peculiar nation to select
From all the rest, of whom to be invoked;
A nation, from one faithful man to spring:
Him, on this side Euphrates yet residing,
Bred up in idol-worship.
O that men,
Canst thou believe? should be so stupid grown,
While yet the patriarch lived, who 'scap'd the flood.
As to forsake the living God, and fall
To worship their own work, in wood and stone,
For gods! Yet him God the Most High vouchsafes
To call, by vision, from his father's house,
His kindred, and false gods, into a land
Which he will show him, & from him will raise
A mighty nation, and upon him shower
His benediction so, that in his seed
All nations shall be bless'd: he straight obeys,
Not knowing to what land, yet firm believes.
I see him, but thou canst not, with what faith
He leaves his gods, his friends, & native soil,
Jr of Chaldea; passing now the ford
To Haran, after him a cumbrous train
Patrons of mankind, gods, and sons of gods,
Destroyers rightlier call'd, and plagues of men.
Thus fame shall be achieved, renown on earth;
And what most merits fame in silence hid.
But he, the seventh from thee, whom thou beheld'st
The only righteous in a world perverse,
And therefore hated, therefore so beset
With foes, for daring single to be just,
And utter odious truth, that God would come
To judge them with his saints: him the Most High,
Wrapt in a balmy cloud, with winged steeds
Did, as thou saw'st, receive, to walk with God,
High in salvation, and the climes of bliss,
Exempt from death; to show thee what reward
Awaits the good; the rest, what punishment;
Which now direct thine eyes, and soon behold."
He look'd, & saw the face of things quite chang'd.
The brazen throat of war had ceas'd to roar;
And all was turn'd to jollity and game,
To luxury and riot, feast and dance,
Marrying, or prostituting, as befel,
Rape or adultery, where passing fair
Allured them; thence from cups to civil broils.
At length a reverend sire among them came,
And of their doings great dislike declared,
And testified against their ways; he oft
Frequented their assemblies, whereso met,
Triumphs or festivals, and to them preach'd
Conversion and repentance, as to souls
In prison, under judgments imminent:
But all in vain: which when he saw, he ceas'd
Contending, and removed his tents far off.
Then from the mountain hewing timber tall,
Began to build a vessel of huge bulk,
Measured by cubit, length, & breath, and highth,
Smear'd round with pitch, & in the side a door
Contrived; and of provisions laid in large
For man & beast: when, lo, a wonder strange!
Of every beast and bird, and insect small,
Came sevens, & pairs, & enter'd in, as taught
Their order; last the sire, and his three sons,
With their four wives; & God made fast the door.
Meanwhile the south wind rose, with black wings
Wide hovering, all the clouds together drove,
From under Heaven; the hills, to their supply,
Vapour and exhalation dusk and moist
Sent up amain; and now the sicken'd sky